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by Katherine Boyer
It’s winter. The dark time of year. Early nightfall, late sunlight. The time of year when I like to pile many books on my nightstand, when I sit in the quiet between Christmas and New Year’s to contemplate and review my past year, and write intentions for the next year. My hopes and dreams and how much I have learned. I like the quiet, the dark, the cold and wet; it’s like sitting inside a cave, a hollowed-out den. I’m a bear in the winter, hibernating.
But we still have family dinner night. We still have young, rambunctious boy energy that fills our house for Sunday night dinner, and I can’t send them outside to run around the block. It’s too dark and they are too young. They love to wrestle and roughhouse and poke each other. They love each other. But it is noisy for me and someone always gets hurt and cries. What to do?
You’ll laugh. I sat down with the three oldest, the Three Musketeers, and asked them to please not run in the house and take the wrestling outside. I asked how we could accomplish this feat next visit. One grandson suggested a movie on the TV. But my question: How can we enjoy each other’s company without always resorting to an electronic babysitter?
I went to the game store to discover and purchase new family board games. I also set up the dining room table as the art center, with colored pencils, markers and crayon to fill in the images of spirit animals and fantastical creatures. Coloring in the black lines has an amazing calming effect. It is very satisfying and gentling. I think it might have to do with right brain activity.
We could play cards. Haven’t tried that yet. We could have story hour. My husband could act out one of his stories that he made up for our children.
It’s such a short span of time, really only two hours, max. Our children want to communicate with their siblings and check in with each other. The grandchildren — ages 2 to 11 — want to carouse.; ages range from 2 to 11. In the summer, the boys (all six of them) kick the ball in the backyard. In the winter we have to be creative. Maybe if I have the games and coloring books all laid out ahead of time, it will move along smoother. I like jigsaw puzzles too; maybe set up a table someplace.
Is this about advance planning? I like to take it all on the fly, but maybe sometimes it’s about being prepared.
I remember living in the woods of Chewelah, Washington. Our oldest son had a thick fir stump out back into which he hammered nails. He started hammering when he was 2 years old. When we left he was 9, and the stump was entirely covered with silver nail heads. I think it’s a very satisfying activity for young male energy — hitting something with purpose and might. Now I wonder if we should put a stump in our backyard for the grandsons.
So, after my special secret talk with the three oldest grandsons, guess how long it took them to run in the house again?
I want to buy a cross-stitch needlepoint screen and have each one take turns pulling thread through the holes, three stitches each, next time they run. The quote to be embellished with embroidery colors: “Don’t Run in the House.”
Katherine Boyer is a mother of four and a grandmother of nine. Read more of her writing at www.katherineboyer.net.